Title: The Memory Thief
Author: Lauren Mansy
Genre: YA Fantasy
Series: none – standalone
Blurb: In the city of Craewick, memories reign. The power-obsessed ruler of the city, Madame, has cultivated a society in which memories are currency, citizens are divided by ability, and Gifted individuals can take memories from others through touch as they please.
Seventeen-year-old Etta Lark is desperate to live outside of the corrupt culture, but grapples with the guilt of an accident that has left her mother bedridden in the city’s asylum. When Madame threatens to put her mother up for auction, a Craewick practice in which a “criminal’s” memories are sold to the highest bidder before being killed, Etta will do whatever it takes to save her. Even if it means rejoining the Shadows, the rebel group she swore off in the wake of the accident years earlier.
To prove her allegiance to the Shadows and rescue her mother, Etta must steal a memorized map of the Maze, a formidable prison created by the bloodthirsty ruler of a neighboring Realm. So she sets out on a journey in which she faces startling attacks, unexpected romance, and, above all, her own past in order to set things right in her world.
Review: This was a really fun book to read! I was first drawn to it after seeing the cover on NetGalley – and the cover is gorgeous LOOK AT IT! – but I enjoyed the story even more. I love when fantasy stories can tell a really good tale of redemption and this book did just that.
Since this is a fantasy, let’s start with the story world. I was fascinated by it! The fact that memories can be given and taken, even used for currency, was a very interesting idea, but I also liked that there were distinct consequences. For example, the rich could afford to buy as many happy memories as they wanted, but having too many memories in their brain could basically overload a person and make them lose their actual identity. That’s really scary! I also thought it was cool that you could learn a talent that way by basically absorbing someone’s skill. It makes sense by the rules of this magic system – a lot of skills, whether artistic or fighting – are based on muscle memory. If you steal the muscle memory, you can do the thing.
Now let’s talk about our protagonist – Etta. Also known as Julietta, also known as Jules. Etta is a fighter. She’s a survivor. But she’s also done some pretty bad things and has a lot of guilt surrounding it, especially around her mother. There is also a lot of things in her past that she doesn’t know or understand (which is understandable in a society where memories can be taken) and it was really cool to discover all these things with Etta. I also really loved Ryder, the street urchin who Etta has taken in and has been looking after. I do have a soft spot for street urchins and Ryder is just so adorable.
This was a very unpredictable story, which I always appreciate. The people you expect to be on Etta’s side aren’t always in her corner, and some people who you expect to be enemies are actually allies. Except for Madame. She is evil. No redeeming qualities whatsoever. It’s scary because she seems to constantly have the upper hand. Plus, she has an incredibly powerful gift that they have to figure out how to counteract. It makes for a very tense final showdown.
GoodReads rating: 4 stars. I always love a good YA fantasy and this was definitely a good one.
Categories: Books I've Read